November 13, 2009

The Golden Mean - Annabel Lyon

Unfortunately, the best thing that I can say about this book is that it is printed in a beautiful typeface. I often found myself getting distracted from what I was reading to admire an elegant question mark or a bold semi-colon.

I found this book very difficult to get through - the fact that it has taken me almost two weeks to finish a book that is only 282 pages should be a good clue. I have been flogging myself to finish it this week, and I missed my self-appointed deadline of finishing the Giller short list before the winner was announced on Tuesday.

I found the characters to be poorly drawn and inconsistent. I also had trouble keeping track of who was who (despite the list of characters at the beginning). And the plot was so disjointed that I had trouble keeping track of what was happening.

All of this is too bad, because it probably could have been a good book. It is a fictionalized account of the relationship between Aristotle and Alexander the Great. I admit that I don't know much about Greek history and mythology, but in the hands of a good story-teller, it probably could have come to life. But instead it was dry and wooden and contrived.

For anyone who is interested, this is what is printed in the back of the book about the type:
"The Golden Mean is set in Centaur, a typeface designed originally for New York's Metropolitan Museum in 1914, then adapted for general use in 1929. While a so-called modern face, Centaur is modelled on letters cut by the fifteenth-century printer Nicolas Jenson. Its italic, orignailly named Arrighi, was designed in 1925 and is based on the work of Ludovico degli Arrighi, a Renaissance scribe. Centaur is considered among the most elegant faces for book-length work."
So pick up a copy of the book in a bookstore, open it up to admire the type, then put it back down again without wasting the time to read it!

My thoughts on this year's Giller in another post.

This book was read for The Canadian Book Challenge at The Book Mine Set.

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